adventures of beck

Friday, May 19, 2006

He's kind of a wuss.

Today was extraordinarily slow, which was a lucky thing because I made an appointment for Kayak to come in for a check up. Gaurav brought him in around 7:45, and the receptionist came and found me to let me know they were here, which was cool of her. Gaurav and I once again related Kayak's story to a new veterinarian, and this time had a plethora of records to show off, with blood tests, and urinalysises and ECG reports, which Gaurav attempted to put in some sort of chronological order. Doc recommended another Chem 27 to compare his values. I'm very happy to report that his bloodwork looked great! He had only one value that was out of range, and that was his Amylase, which is a pancreatic enzyme. By itself, it usually doesn't indicate anything other than a little indigestion. This is very very cool. This means that we can go ahead with getting him neutered. He also has a lump of some kind on his hind leg that Doc recommended we get taken off while he's under for neutering, along with a teeth cleaning if doc thinks that he needs it. The risk from anesthesia is mostly from the going under, not the staying under, so we might as well get a lot done while he's under. We're not sure what the lump on his leg actually is, and the Doc says it's probably harmless, but that it's in a great spot for Kayak to chew on it and make a big mess when it explodes. (Ew.) It's a little bigger than a marble, and is hard. While Kayak was getting his ears cleaned, (with a muzzle on of course) he whimpered most pathetically. He also whimpered for his shots. The vet staff thought that this was pretty funny. I asked Doc if he'd ever heard a dog whine so much, and he said "yes, but they were toy poodles." Gaurav of course found this hilarious, and I sheepishly smiled and said "Yeah, he's kind of a wuss." I love my needle-hating-thinks-he's-tough-but-is-actually-a-wuss-dog. And anyhow, all the other dogs are scared too. They pant, and drool, and shake, and poop. So my dog is a little more vocal. That gives him character. Right?

After Kayak and Gaurav left, I checked out our other patients. We had a pair of cats being boarded, a Siamese and an orange cat. Both had diabetes, but the orange cat had more severe diabetes. The cats drank extreme amounts of water (we're talking a big dish that gets refilled a couple times a day) and then pee like mad. I had the pleasure of cleaning out their cage. Actually, I don't really mind cleaning up after animals and moving them to a nice, clean, fresh, dry cage where they will be so much more comfortable. It makes me feel good.

We had about 3 German Shepards come in, one of which was laden with ticks. We pulled on off her face, and found a bunch more. Doc said they were just going to "Frontline" the rest, which means putting the dog on a tick/flea killer that is topical. Maybe Kayak is spoiled to be on Frontline year-round, but since he shares a bed with me...and I don't really want to find fleas or ticks on me....I'm not going to let him get laden up with ticks before I kill them all. Ticks are absolutely disgusting, they bury their little heads in dogs (and people,) and their feet wiggle if you touch them- sick.

The mystery of the day was a small white "Fief" (which is what one of the techs calls all small dogs, who are by nature troublesome beasts.) This fief-puppy pees blood. They thought the blood might be because she was in heat, but when I took her for a walk, it came out when she peed, and only when she peed, not randomly like a dog in heat. Plus, her vulva wasn't dilated, so the vet knew that it was a urinary issue. I wonder what that could be.

I asked about Butt-Surgery-Dog (BSD) and they told me that he had been in for a visit because he was chewing on his butt. He had to get a bigger e-collar (lampshade style) to prevent him from reaching his butt. He was not pleased about this development.

One of the last things we did before we left for the day was to check Diabetic Orange Cat's blood glucose, and give him insulin. I held (rather good natured) kitty while the tech tried to get blood from several different veins. She was unsuccessful, and Doc had to do it eventually, but I found myself uncharacteristically drawn to the task of obtaining blood. I found my hands itching to try it myself, which the mere thought of used to make me feel nauseous. I actually wanted to try it. My eyes were fixated on the needle and the vein and the task. I wonder if I will get an opportunity to try sometime soon. I can't believe that I am hoping for it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Kayak: On the Alert!

"Be brutally honest, does this pack suck?"

First of all, I have finally become useful. I can do things on my own, and this is the most awesome feeling. So, I started out cleaning the litter pans, like I always do. This is nice because I absolutely hate standing around being useless. Even though I know I'm working for free, I still can't stand to not be working. Actually, right as I walked in, doc handed me the leash of the dog he had just brought back, to get him on the table. I think I was a little too nice trying to get him on the scale. Doc finally looped the rope thing over his head and cinched it to the loop on the scale. It hadn't occurred to me to tie the dog to the scale for some reason, even though I've seen it done lots of times. I just figured the dog would start to listen to me. He probably would have, but efficiency has it's place, so next time I'll have to be quicker.

Next on the list of exciting-ness was helping Dr. R with a runny-babbit. This bunny was in to get castrated. I got to get him out of his crate for Dr. R, which was unsettling because ever since the flop-eared bunny that I found in our backyard BIT me, rabbits have always made me uneasy, and I'd just prefer to chase them with Kayak. But, since I am supposed to have experience with ALL creatures great and small, I cajoled the bunny into coming out without tasting me. I then got the bunny onto the table to be weighed. Now, no one manufactures muzzles for runny babbits, so when Dr. R was about to inject the bunny with anesthetic (which stings, remember,) he tells me to "watch out because he won't like this." Sweet. So without choking someone's precious pet, I have to also ensure the bunny doesn't pull a Monty-Python-And-The-Holy-Grail type move and become the Killer Rabbit. Luckily, this wabbit is black, not white, so I doubt he has killer tendencies. Then, I put the wabbit back into his cwate, where he would become vewy, vewy sweepy. And I said this. "Vewy vewy sweepy." Everyone found it hiwariwous. And they all started saying "wabbit."

So while the rabbit was going down for his castration-nap, I went to check on the more unusual surgery of the day. An old Chesapeake Bay Retriever was getting several tumors removed from his butt. Coined "butt-surgery dog" for obvious reasons, this was one very unhappy puppy. This was by far the bloodiest surgery I had witnessed, since unlike the leg surgery, butt surgery is all soft tissue, which is exceptionally vascular. The tumors were lumpy and of various sizes, and by the time Doc was done, the dog had become Franken-Butt, with stitches everywhere. Pooping was going to be painful while healing. The difficult part of this surgery was keeping the dog under. He used about 2 bottles of pentathol just to keep him from whining during surgery-which is a strong indicator that he was waking up, and was very light on anesthetic. For comparison's sake, a bottle of Pentathol would be enough to put your average dog to sleep forever. Most dogs I see use maybe 2-4 cc's throughout surgery, after the pre-anesthetic. This dog used more because 1) he was bigger 2) the surgery was more painful (more innervated area, move invasive) 3) the surgery took longer than your average neutering 4) he just reacts differently to anesthetic. The fourth reason was also indicated because he would start whining and waking up before he developed a blink reflex-which is typically an early indicator that the animal is getting light on anesthetic.

After I checked on Butt-Surgery-Dog (BSD,) I helped to prepare a cat for castration. After kitty was given his pre-anesthetic and was quite limp and out of it, the next step was to pluck the fur from his balls. (Guys, feel free to cringe.) Of course, kitty has just been given a big dose of pain meds, and isn't aware this is happening. The reason that kitties get plucked is because cat's balls are very small, and you're more likely to end up castrating him with the clippers before ever getting him onto the real operating table if you attempt to shave a cat's balls. The fur comes out pretty easily, easier than eyebrow hairs on humans, kind of in clumps. Then I clipped the cat's nails, which is shockingly easier than on a cat that has full use of his senses (and muscles.) I managed to get a hunk of nail in my eye, which was nice. After I turned kitty over to the docs/techs, I was sent to get a young chocolate lab for castration. He was so sweet, he reminded me a lot of my dog, Kayak, and even weighed the same, 60 lbs. I got him on the table and held him while he got his pre-anesthetic, and I was having a great time talking to him, scratching his head, rubbing his ears, and generally becoming rapidly attached to him. Then, he lost his anxious edge as the meds kicked in, and started licking my chin. Then he started to get dizzy from the meds. You can tell an animal is dizzy because they swing their heads from side to side. And then a rather curious thing began to happen: as the dog got dizzy, I got dizzy. I recognized that this was happening, and I realized that it was because I was really attached to this dog. So I stepped back mentally and started to talk to myself, still keeping my hands on the dog (so of course he didn't fall off the table as he went under.) I crouched down by his head, which always has the effect of stabilizing my own blood pressure. I started to think about the dog biologically instead of as my new buddy. This made the dizziness go away. Then I stood up and I was fine. The tech started a cath on the dog, and shaved him, and put his anesthetic syringe on his leg with tape. I carried the dog to the table (like carrying 60 lbs of liquid-really hard when dogs are limp.) We tied his paws down and the tech prepped him (cleaned the surgical area.) I pulled his tongue out and over to the side and checked his breathing. I hung around for his surgery, checking his breathing a lot, pushing anesthetic when the Dr told me to. After surgery, I cleaned up his incision, untied him, took out his cath (by myself!) and took him back to his cage (he was really really heavy and hard to hold.) Very cool.

I learned how to make tags for cages, and about pain medication. Owners can choose whether or not they want their pet to get pain meds. Pain meds typically cost between $10-$15. Though it has historically been thought that "animals do not feel pain/do not experience it the same way/need it to recover," this has been proven untrue. Animals experience pain the same way humans do, there is simply a communication disconnect between the species, and animals are exceptionally good at hiding pain, as this is a survival technique. I do not believe it is right to hold different standards for pain medication for animals than we do for humans. Having spoken recently to two individuals who are close to my heart who have experienced physical trauma and surgery, I know that injuries and post surgery are extremely excruciating. I also listened to an interview of a very knowledgeable veterinarian who explained some of the research on animal pain. I downloaded it as a pod-cast. Their stand was much the same as mine, but it was interesting to hear the history behind beliefs regarding pain in animals.

The title of the blog comes from a statement I made as I was learning how to pack surgical packs to be autoclaved. Packing these is difficult to learn, and requires dexterity and muscle memory. Effectively, you pack all the instruments that a vet will use during surgery, neatly, inside a cloth pack, that includes a drape, and gauze, and then sterilize the whole pack. Then, before a surgery, a doctor can open the entire affair and keep everything sterile. The key part is packing the pack TIGHTLY, so instruments cannot shift and the pack will not disentegrate in the autoclave- which uses water to sterilize. This would be bad.

Float shift was having issues today, someone didn't show up to work, so I cleaned the whole cat-room myself, which was awesome. I had fun petting the kitty-cat that loves to have her butt scratched, and does this funny thing where she sticks out her tongue and rolls her head back when I scratch her.

Great day.

The Art of Disinfection

Today when I arrived, I found out that we had some seriously sick puppy dogs on our hands. We had one dog in ISO with Parvovirus, and two of the rottweiler/mix puppies that had been undergoing spay/castrations had some kind of illness (I can't remember!) I started cleaning litter boxes, and then on of the techs put a feces-covered grate in the "tub" where we wash stuff. I started to wash it, and she told me to be very careful, because it was poop from one of the sick dogs. Well, I scrubbed it with soap, hot water, bleach, and roto-kill (roto-kill is the chemical of choice to clean extra-nasty stuff, and it is appropriately green-death colored.) I cleaned two of those grates, and each one probably took me about 10 minutes per. Then I had to disinfect myself and the tub. I used roto-kill and bleach.

I then followed a tech on float today. I helped her clean runs which involves hosing, scrubbing, and squeegeeing. I liked learning to clean runs, because this makes me more useful as a potential hiree.

There was a really cool dog in one of the rescue runs. She was a small black dog, and could jump amazingly high! She did these cool flips in the run, and I guess she can get out of them by jumping Mario-style of the sides of the walls. Really neat! She has already been adopted and will be picked up Friday, I think. I told the tech to let me know what happens if the family who adopts her doesn't dig her fence-jumping style.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Spay Day 2006

All hands on deck today for about a million surgeries. A whole litter of puppies, like 5 other dogs at least, we were shuttling them in and out like crazy! I got to push anesthetic, check vitals etc, do clean up, put animals in cages post surgery, etc. It rocked.

So, I've always been a little weird about them getting anesthetic, it makes me feel weird. I usually hang back when they're doing that, at a distance. So I'm holding a small, black, fearful dog getting an exam, and shots. The doc gives a rabies shot, the dog jumps a little. I keep holding the dog, everyone else walks around, doing other things. The dog starts to sway it's head, and wants to lay down, it is suddenly very calm. I realize suddenly that she was given ansethetic, and I am OKAY! I let her fall quite asleep in my arms, then carried her into surgery and helped with prepping. Monitored her vitals, and did clean up and put her in her cage! Turns out she jumped because the pre-anesthetic stings going in. It's a muscular shot, but I didn't notice that the doc wasn't giving a sub-q, because I was watching for where he gave the shot, because I know that rabies go on the right rump, lyme goes on the left leg, and distemper goes on the dorsal (between the shoulder blades in the scruff.) They are all sub-q vaccines. That's for dogs. Cats are leukemia-left, rabies-right, and FVP/FVCRP dorsal (I think on the acronym one I might have some letters off.) Pre-anesthetic is given to smooth out the Pentathol that they then push into a vein. After surgery, when you pull out the Pentathol syringe that is taped to their leg, you have to REMEMBER how much is left, because this goes on the chart. The syringes can be different in several ways: the increments could be different- some are called "tuberculin" syringes-which I think means they are really small? And some screw in the needle- "Lure" syringes I think, and some just pop the needle on and off. So, when you are pulling out the catheter, you have to make sure that you grip the the part where the catheter meets the syringe, because otherwise, you'll pull off the syringe and blood will spout.

I also watched how IV and syringe catheters go in as well- the needle is inside a tiny rubber tube, with the pokey tip sticking out. You start catheters after the animal is mostly out of it from the pre-anesthetic, because, animals don't LIKE catheters too much. Then, once you poke it in, you pull the needle out from the inside of the tube, so now the bendy tube is in the vein. Watching it was a big step for me- such things would usually make me woozy, but now I'm getting desensitized and am coming closer to the day when I will attempt a blood draw. Probably I will first get to try on an anesthetized animal, since they aren't as squirmy, and are far more patient with mistakes.

On a puppy (8-12wk) spay later, I got to pull out the e-tube, too. We put the e-tube in so the puppy wouldn't vomit and aspirate it because someone had accidentally fed them that morning. The puppies were very cute, but definitely getting sick- worms, sneezing, coughing, runny nose etc. The sicker ones will have to wait for their surgery until they are better.

The puppy got gas and injectible anesthetic because puppies, with smaller organs, can't handle as much of one type of anesthetic as a bigger dog can. So you give smaller amounts of different types of anesthetic so one organ doesn't get overwhelmed (heart, liver, lungs, kidneys.) Puppies are also more difficult to keep under, because they don't respond very reliably to the anesthetic I think. (I could be wrong, but this puppy was hard to keep under.) We had to keep adjusting the gas.

I monitored vitals (all by myself!) on 3-4 dogs for Dr. R. I updated him on breathing changes, blink reflexes, and pulse rates. I don't know if he needs all this info, but I wanted to practice to make sure I could do the math quickly in my head, and continually monitor the breathing. When breathing speeds up, you know that anesthetic is light, and vice versa. Quick strong pulse also indicates light anesthesia, while slow, regular pulse indicates good anesthetic. Paleness of gums, slow capillary refill time, and slow/fast light pulse are indicators of shock (not good.)

I cleaned out a run for the puppies to go into after they were spayed/castrated. We picked one of the warmer rooms. I cleaned it using roto-kill which is noxious, but kills anything that could hurt puppies. I rinsed with water, and even went a little above and beyond, cleaned extra floor that just seemed dirty to me. I guess I get that from my mom, who is the sterilization queen and gave me an early love for all things that murder germs.

I also cleaned some cages and put down heating pads.

Bradford the cat went back to his shelter, he's looking good, though he's cranky about his leg. He really likes food though. So he can eat easy, you put wet food in his little bowl and snuggle it up under his chin, so he can then wolf it down.

I got to see a dog's uterous. It is shaped different than humans (who are designed to have single and rare twin births.) We humans have a big body in the uterous. Dogs have a very small body and big "horns" off both sides that travel up to the ovaries. The puppies develop in the horns. The ovaries are about the size of a pinto bean, little hard masses in the ends of horns.

To remove the tissue, the doc first separates it from some of the fascia holding it in place, using scissor-like things that he "spreads" open. He then clamps, ties off with surgical gut, and then cuts it out, making sure to not slice big arteries. There's remarkable little blood involved. About as much as you would get on your hands from handling say, filet mignon. That's because only capillaries should bleed if you're doing it right.

Gooood day. I love surgery.


First Euthanasia

Today was a good day. I'm learning the ins and outs of the place. I held a lot of patients, even by myself, for the doc.

First euthanasia today: The Ronnie cat that I mentioned in an earlier post. She was miserable, old as heck, clean off her food, teeth rotting out of her head, couldn't walk, she was weak, seizing, losing her sight (it was gone by the time she was put down.)

I put her into the garbage bag after the vet put her to sleep. She twitched once. Her body was still warm, and she seemed very much asleep. Very strange, but I'm very glad she's in a better place now.

Shattered Leg, New Dreams

Today, first, I got a tick that I think came off a cute shepard puppy. The tick is now hanging in my office and I am going to identify it later, and possibly create a "summer risks" bulletin board including things that can come after you and your dogs and cats. That will be neat.

The rest of the day was spent observing and somewhat assisting an amazing surgery on a cat named Bradford, who is a stray, that appeared to have been struck by an automobile. Bradford had some amazing films (x-rays) and even a casual observer could see that his femur had been shattered- both longitudinally and torsionally. It was pretty ugly, but he was a real nice cat even though he must have been in horrifying pain. We had no idea how long it had been since he had been hit. I was nervous about watching a surgery, and watched from a bit of a distance at first, but once I realized that the insides of cat leg appear enormously like raw chicken breast, I came to three conclusions: 1. I'm glad I grew up a meat eater, around raw things and grills. 2. I can totally handle surgery. 3. I'm not sure I find chicken appetizing anymore.

In any case, surgery was awesome. I got to see him drill bone with a hand drill, put a pin in longitudinally, down the marrow, remove scar tissue that had formed (so much scar tissue that he said had he known it was this long since the injury, he would have referred them to an ortho-surgeon, and if they hadn't wanted to do that, Bradford the Cat would have lost his leg, which wouldn't be a big deal, and was a back-up plan anyways.) Then I got to see him wrap wire around. Wire goes through the bone (drills holes first), and then wraps around half of it-otherwise it would act as a tourniquet and cut off bone circulation. The more impression-making parts to me were the initial cut, the digging through the muscle, the scraping of bones, the removal of scar tissue, and the way surgery is by no means a tender, gentle act. It is literally like changing the tire on your bike- you have to apply a lot of force! This is because when a bone breaks, the muscles have free roam to tighten way way up. This makes it hard to get the bone back to it's original position, and frequently, that leg ends up shorter than the others. Bradford will also limp on his leg for life, because the formation of scar tissue locks down the range of motion he will have. His leg won't hurt though, it just won't move as far. Again, you fight a battle with keeping the animal breathing and yet under anesthesia. You test things like blink reflex, capillary refill time, etc. If he starts licking his nose, or twitching, then you push another .1 ml of anesthetic from the syringe that's plugged into the port on his IV. (I got to do this a couple times) Not every animal gets an IV during surgery, lots of times we just have a syringe taped to their leg, plugged into a vein. I think longer, more traumatic surgeries get IVs, and so do deydrated animals.) The anesthetic, at least in part, was Pentathol, which is I think the same stuff they use to put animals to sleep. Now, when an animal is undergoing surgery, the amount of anesthetic you need is based partly on the amount of pain that the surgery causes-this is because the body responds to pain, even if your cerebral cortex has no idea what is going on. So during spays, the dog twitches or snuffs when you grab it's uterus and move it around, or cut it out if the anesthetic is too light. For Bradford the cat, he showed the most signs of waking up when the doc was yanking his bones around, trying to get them to line up (not a very easy task.) He even licked his nose and lifted his head (like twitched it a little.) At first, this seemed terrible to me, and I had trouble with it on other animals. By now, I'm learning to appreciate more the signs of perfusion, lack of shock, good heart rate, good breathing, and signs that the animal is toughing out the trauma more than placing emphasis on how the animal might be feeling. This takes work, to put myself in an objective frame of mind, but luckily, thinking of the mechanics and biology is just as fascinating for me as is animal behaviour and emotion. Occasionally, I would start to imagine that it was my leg that was being worked on, and I had to stop myself, and say to myself, "Do you have furry ears? No. Do you have a tail? No. Do you have whiskers? No. Then you are not this cat. Your leg is not cut open. And you do not like cat food." This talking to myself with the little joke at the end let me step back out of the cat's shoes, and back into the vet's shoes. The little joke made me relax and smile, and then I was back interested in the bones and the muscles and the blood. The surgery itself was a very interesting and difficult one, which I was very very lucky to have been able to observe, especially up close, with such a nice veternarian to whom I could ask the occasional question that he was happy to answer. I even got to open some sterile packs to give him some instruments, which I treated with the utmost care and concentration. I really enjoyed anticipating his next move (in my head), though I was wrong a lot, I enjoyed the times that I was right. I think that some of my mechanical experience will cross over to be helpful in surgery. Guess all that playing around with Dad's tools and rolls and rolls of bell wire when I was younger might actually come in handy! Even more fascinating to me still, though, is the process of surgery, that has not yet become mundane to me, and there's still a little magic left in putting an animal under, and that still makes me uneasy. I don't know how the drug works, so it makes me feel weird to watch. The first knife cut is also a little disturbing, a strange violation of another creature, but once cut open, I am definitely good to go. Stitching up, too, is also odd, one because it involves a needle, but two because I think I am anticipating the transformation from lump of bloody fur back to animal who purrs. Even so much as moving my gaze from the incision to the animals head (where vitals are monitored by holding a hand near the nose to feel breath, and blink reflex is watched for) creates a strange sensation of a split mentality- like "cat-leg-cat-leg-cat-leg" and I know firsthand the difference between seeing a whole patient, and seeing a trauma of a body part. I know too, why it is so difficult for a surgeon to have a kind bedside manner- it is pure cognitive dissonance.

After the surgery, I got to help with creating the splint- by wrapping thick gauge wire around a skippy peanut butter jar (to create the perfect width circle for this kitty!) The splint is the best of both worlds -not complete immobilization (which creates cast disease (lots of scar tissue)) and limited movement (which allows the bone ends to join again.) We also took anothe xray to be sure that the pin was in the right spot (it had to be adjusted slightly-read "jammed further into bone with brute strength.) Luckily the cat was still really out of it, though we were no longer pushing anesthetic and were instead allowing it to start waking up. It is interesting to treasure pink-looking gums more than a happy cat. The cat was in fact, probably in a lot of pain as it awoke. We cleaned up the blood on it's fur and around the incision (did I mention we shaved the cat's leg, and it's IV site?) with hydrogen peroxide- the cleaning solution of choice for blood. Then kitty went to a surgical recovery cage with a heating pad, and a towel for warmth (to prevent shock.) The before and after x-rays were amazing. And Bradford seems to be doing great.

This is so cool.

The Second Injection

As the title says, I gave the second injection, this time to an awake dog, and this time a distemper vax so I had to mix the liquid with the powder in two separate vials. I must remember next time to keep the needle in while mixing- this dulls the needle less than repoking it through the rubber- not that the big black lab even noticed. I held several animals for the doc today, the most difficult was holding one for the other volunteer to inject. The long lead-up until she injected him made my knees shake a bit from the needle, but I hung in there. Also got blood on me for the first time, a Jug draw wouldn't clot on a King Charles Spaniel. It got on my arm. I didn't mind at all.

Also grosser than the cutting of gums on the yorkie- today a reaaaaaaaaally old cat with a rotting mouth was in on an IV drip. Her name was Ronnie. I dealt with them changing the IV- a bit gross, and then the doctor pulling out a chunk of rotted gum- WAY gross, and then the doc pulling out a tooth- reallly really gross. But I hung in there, no dizziness. And then I held Ronnie the kitty while a tech brushed her. Kitty was in rough shape- a raging gum infection that could have been averted a long time ago. Poor kit looked miserable. Kitty smelled, not surprisingly, like rotting flesh. She was very interesting colours- oranges and blacks. It was apparently a slow Saturday. I'm picking up on how to choose a good muzzle size right off the bat. I want to ask how to find the jugular vein on a dog, so I can try on my dog Kayak. (Obviously without stabbing him.)

Also cleaned up in front of the office outside, picked up litter by the road. It was gorgeous out so this was a nice break in the action. Bought heart meds and flea meds for kayak. They gave me a bit of a discount, which was very nice of them.

The First Injection

Today I injected a dog! Sub-q vaccine in the scruff of the neck, she was under for surgery anyhow, so no wiggling. She got spayed. I watched her vitals with the tech, who taught me how to see pulse in their gums, pull their tongues forward a bit, tie their paws to the table, push anesthetic at doc's discretion, check for blink reflex and watch their breathing- every 5-6 seconds is normal (10-12 breaths/minute) watching their chest can be deceiving, i like to put my eyelid right by their nose, then i can feel the breath coming out. it's sometimes too light to feel with a hand. The dog also twitched a bit during the more painful parts of surgery, i guess this is a subconscious reaction to a pain stimuli- very interesting and creepy. I was around a lot of needles, but I did fine! I didn't look at any of the surgery part, but I could see a little stitching going on and a lot of blood on the doc's gloves. Also learned how to clean up around the incision site after surgery. Spray lightly with hydrogen peroxide, rub with finger lightly, blot very gently- you don't want to pull on the incision at all. Then, doc showed me the vaccine, and gave the tech a needle to draw blood for a heartworm test. I held the leg for her! and didn't get dizzy at all! I was totally focused on the task. I so far have issues with the falling asleep part, after they give the animal the sleep injection in the butt, watching her get sleepy is really unnerving for me. I have to wander around and do something else while the animal goes down for "a surgery nap". I like to call it a "surgery nap" because saying "put animal to sleep" has other connotations.

I also learned how to set up post-surgery cages, pack surgery packs and glove packs and drapes for autoclaves.

And, I held a dog all by myself while doc did an exam and a jug draw( a jugular vein blood draw)- had to learn how to keep my fingers out of the way on that one! I picked out the right size muzzle and everything. It was extremely cool.

Two HUGE dogs came intoday, St. Bernards. THEY are kind of scary to have on treatment table, since they could EAT YOUR FACE. One was 140 lbs, one was 163 lbs. AH! bigger than me! and strong! It takes lots of people to hold them. And, oddly enough, they get just as scared as little dogs. Good thing they don't realize they could EAT YOUR FACE!

And oh!

A dog came in with a bite wound, he protected his 5 year old owner from getting attacked by two roaming dogs. Really cool story. I held the dog's head while the doc poked surgical scissors all the way into his puncture wound and then squirted alcohol in it- that must have stung bad. The dog was literally shaking in fear. I talked to him very softly and slowly and stroked him very gently. I think this calms them more than patting on their heads. Like every other dog, though, all was forgiven once he was off the exam table. Obviously he had a muzzle on. Again, I like my face UNEATEN.

Then a pitbull came in with something wrong on his foot. Doc thinks it's a tumor, but owner-lady thinks that the dog stepped on something and it is embedded in his foot. Doc put a big, airy bandage on it. He makes lots of bandages out of large hunks of pure cotton. He seems to like to use that a lot. He also uses it to make his own q-tips on scissors, which get way more wax out than traditional q-tips.

So far not a lot of cats have come through while i'm there. Lots more dogs so far.

I can't wait to start the horse stuff.

The First Bite

I walked Nala the crazy dog who has been boarded for at least 2 weeks now. The dogs get very little exercise when they are boarded, and we walk them on these slip-knotted ropes (which I personally don't consider to be particularly secure, but then again, I walk my dog in a harness.) Anyhow, on the way back inside, Nala picked up Teddy's (boarded Collie) toy off the floor, and when i went to grab it, her teeth chomped down on my knuckle. I think she was just trying to get a better grip, but she drew blood, so she's certainly not as careful as my dog, Kayak, is around human flesh. Nala didn't really want to give up her stolen new toy, and it took a bit of cajoling to get it back.

I also asked doc a lot of questions about putting Kayak under anesthetic (a risk because he had heartworm disease when we found him, which he has since been cured of,) pre-anesthetic panels, and I learned about how to prepare dogs that are risky for surgery, with sub-q fluids, iv fluids, etc. It was neat.

Dental Work and Wooziness

On this day a yorkie got a bunch of teeth cut out of his head because he was growing rows of them. The whole anesthetic thing threw me a bit, and I felt sort of sick. I correctly answered the question "where does the drive to breathe come from?" though. (build-up of CO2 in the blood.)

Doc also used the laser-which made for an interesting smell. A cat got castrated as well.

Everyone who works there totally rocks.